The prospect of Lewis Hamilton donning the iconic Ferrari red had been talked about for many years, but the timing of last week’s announcement certainly took everyone by surprise, including Daniel Ricciardo.
The Formula 1 community was sent reeling in early February when the bombshell news of Lewis Hamilton’s move to the Scuderia in 2025 became official.
Typically, driver movements within the sport solidify and become public knowledge during the summer break, offering a sense of order and predictability.
But Hamilton’s switch, confirmed mere weeks before the 2024 season opener in Bahrain, threw a wrench into that tradition.
“Not surprised in the sense that, could I have ever seen him in red? Yes,” commented Ricciardo, speaking to RACER’s Chris Medland.
“I could see in his career and the legacy piece and all of that, of course. And obviously, it’s a good team, so he’s got a chance of winning there, for sure.
“But I was just more thrown by the timing. I think.
“Obviously I don’t know the internal stuff that goes on there, so obviously there’s reasons why it got announced as early as it did. But that part was what threw me more than him going to Ferrari.”
The early announcement fueled speculation about internal factors at Mercedes that prompted such an uncharacteristic move, leaving everyone wondering what triggered this deviation from the usual mid-season shuffle.
But the unexpected event has left Mercedes in a unique position. While facing the challenge of finding a replacement, the Brackley squad also gained an unexpected advantage according to Ricciardo.
“I look at Mercedes now, they’ve got a whole year to figure out what they’re going to do,” he said.
“And I assume in their position, they’re in no rush. So they’ll assess everyone, how they’re doing, the driver market, whatever. So I guess for someone like them, it’s probably a good position to be in.”
As the dust settles on this seismic shift, Formula 1 enters a period of speculation and intrigue. With a major seat vacancy created at Mercedes by Hamilton’s departure, and another perhaps set to open up at Red Bull, the driver market is sure to heat up.
While Ricciardo’s name is one that might be a name tossed around in the rumor mill, he remains focused on the present.
“I am by no means looking that far ahead,” he said. “In this part of my career, I think looking far ahead kind of feels like one year closer to the end. So it’s more reason for me to be present now and definitely take it race by race.
“So yeah, silly season, part of me is also happy to not be in all these crazy things, especially this early in the season. So if the silly season happens without me, I’m also OK with that right now!”
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